Christians unite on World AIDS day

By December 1, 2006

USA (MNN) — Religious and non-religious people are gathering around the world today to mark World AIDS Day, an international observance commemorating tens of millions who suffer from or have died of the disease. Christians will be a major part of that commemoration more now than ever before.

The Vice President at World Vision, Steve Haas, says he’s amazed by the change. “If you were to have told me three years ago that there would be 90 Christian college campuses doing major campaigns in light of AIDS, three years ago I would have said you were crazy. But, it’s happening today.”

Haas says the church is also awakening to the issue Pastor Rick Warren is holding an AIDS summit today. And, Willow Creek gave out the courageous leadership award on AIDS. “This was thought unthinkable four or five years ago. But, the church is awakening to the fact that there are orphans, vulnerable children, people infected that are in desperate need of the compassion of Christ.”

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has hit the youth of the world hard, says Haas. “When you talk about 15-million orphans, vulnerable children that have been made subject to abuse, neglect and starvation simply because of a disease, these are our kids.”

That’s why World Vision is involved, because the kids are the ones suffering.

Christians are now doing three things. They’re bring awareness to the problem, talking about abstinence and other prevention, and reaching out with compassionate care. As Christians learn about the pandemic, there are multiple ways they can help. “Whether it’s supporting a child, whether it’s getting behind a church leader in another country, whether it’s giving the needed resources because often poverty and AIDS go together, and that’s what’s happening.”

While many of the AIDS victims are dying without Christ, Haas says, “Many of these people are dying with Christ, except no body. I mean no fellowship, no connection with other Christ followers.”

62-percent of those infected are women. Three to four percent is homosexually driven, some who have engaged is at risk behavior and many more who have not. “Therefore,” Haas says, “warrant the love and compassion or Jesus.”

Russia has fastest growing rate of the disease, while Swaziland and Botswana have infection rates of 40 to 50 percent, Haas is watching one country in particular. “India, now, has surpassed South Africa as the country having more infections than any other country on earth. And, they’re going to be suffering from the same problems that the African continent has, and that is no social safety net.”

That means more help is needed and as Christians help, it provides great opportunities to share Christ.

You can find out more about what World Vision is doing by going to their World AIDS Day website.

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